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News May 2007   (Dili / Timor-Leste, May 21, 2007)

 
Website statistics: In April we were able to welcome on our website 30'741 visitors who did 748'302 hits.
                                           (March = 30'844 visitors ??? countries* 784'599 hits)
                                Record days since 12/17/1998 - the birthday of our website: 2/19/2007, 2'518 visitors and 293'778 hits
                      (*= the country counter, which stopped working March 23, 2006, has still not been repaired by the
                              ISP Goldnet - frustrating! - usually there were monthly between 100 and 118 different countries!)
                   
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Since our last "News" on April 25th, we were able to visit not only two more Indonesian islands, but even a new
country: Timor-Leste, the 156th. On April 27th, we left the island of Flores on our 8th Indonesian ferry for seven
hours to the island of Sumba. As we experienced during the following week, Sumba is really (still) a "titbit". The
people live mostly still the traditional way of life, but also its landscape is very fascinating . On May 4th, we sadly left
this very beautiful island due to our Indonesian stay expiring soon.Unfortunately, the shipping connections from and
to Sumba work only on a weekly schedule. But Sumba became definitively No. 1 in our "Indonesian hit list".
 
After two tiring sea journeys of 17 hours each, which both went through the whole night, and after a stopover on the
small "forgotten" island of Sawu (Sabu), we reached Kupang, the capital of the Eastern Nusa Tenggara province.
Being rather a dusty, characterless accumulation of about 200'000 people, situated in the Western part of the island
of Timor, we wanted to await there the outcome of the Presidential Elections in neighboring Timor-Leste (the earlier
East-Timor). Luckily, the situation remained calm. Therefore, on May 15th, one day before our six months
Indonesian permit ran out definitively, we entered our 156th country Timor-Leste in its enclave of Oecussi. Shortly
before, President Ramos-Horta has surprisingly been elected without new unrest.

And Oecussi proved to be a real treasure. Actually, nobody knew exactly whether an exit from Indonesia and an
entry into this part of Timor-Leste – the more with an own vehicle – was possible at all for a foreigner. Amazingly,
nobody seemed to be bothered by our intention, although most probably no foreign tourist car ever crossed this
boundary before. Shortly afterwards, we are surrounded by pure nature: Rugged, sparesely forested mountains, an
adventurous track and finally the turquoise sea bordered by untouched sandy beaches. But also the locals welcome
us full of enthusiasm, waving, often even bowing. Suddenly, we feel like being in paradise. But this paradise is poor,
very poor! There are practically no public transports, no motorbikes, even no bicycles – in Oecussi the only
transport is on foot. In the hot tropical sun, everybody – from school kids to grannies – is walking for hours up the
hills and down the mountains. Very simple straw huts are lining the tracks with roaming chickens, goats, cows, pigs,
dogs and water-buffaloes, anything which can be eaten. The water has to be brought in buckets from a well,
sometimes from pretty far away. There is electricity only in the evenings for six hours in the main village; road
maintenance doesn't exist, rubbish neither, as there is not much to buy. While even in the whole of Timor-Leste with
a population of over one million only 4% know what Internet means, Oecussi itself with about 60'000 people has
one Internet station – may this still be paradise? We are not sure, particularly if we look at the average life
expectancy: 52 for men, 54 for women! Is this the reason that Oecussi has the world's highest fertility rate
(8.4 children every woman)? And besides: Only 43% of individuals aged 15 and older can read and write!
 
When we reach Oecussi-"Town", a village with about 5'000 inhabitants, the new ferry vessel, donated recently by
Germany as economic aid, lies on shore; there is no pier. This now twice weekly sailing connection remains
practically the only contact to the outside world, even to the main land of Timor-Leste and its capital Dili. Although
Indonesia annexed the whole of East-Timor between 1975 and 1999, today there is no cross-border traffic of
people or goods anymore. Today, Timor-Leste is orientated much more towards Australia.
 
After three wonderful days of discovering Oecussi, we also took the ferry for a 13-hour night journey to Dili. What
a difference to the "chaotic" Indonesian ferry adventures! Everything runs smoothly and well organized, nearly as in
Europe – the sponsor can be sensed! On May 19th, at dawn, we reach Timor-Leste's capital Dili, a city with about
70'000 people. Unfortunately, the place has rather a bad reputation, especially in the international travel advisories.
But nothing is eaten as hot as it was cooked before. We have the feeling that the media is sometimes exaggerating
(good news are no news), though the notorious refugee camps are visible, which were blamed for some unrest and
riots. But on Timor-Leste's Independence Day, on May 20th, when also the newly elected President Josť Ramos-
Horta was inaugurated, no tension could be felt at all. Luckily, we were able to participate in these festivities too. As
we have now the impression that Timor-Leste can be traveled and discovered without too many problems, we
intend to explore this obviously beautiful and young country, which was "born" only on May 20th, 2002, during the
coming few weeks.
 

Citrana/Oecussi/Timor-Leste: 4x4-Track      

                             
Unfortunately, the entire procedure for the temporary visit of our car to the Philippines has to be restarted from
scratch – this may take some time! Saying this, it's not at all clear how the continuation from Timor-Leste will be for
us, and when this will be. Either we ship directly from Dili to Manila, or we apply for another Indonesian visa to
discover more destinations on its 17'000 islands, like e.g. Sulawesi and the Moluccas.
 
Therefore, please check from time to time the progress of our "Indonesia-Trip, Part 4", and shortly also of our
pictured site of "Timor-Leste"!

New Reports/Pictures

SOUTHEASTASIA:                                      mouse over picture shows comments
                     click a picture to see details

 

 
Sarawak/East-Malaysia
(Island of Borneo), Part 2
(Nov. 2006)
 
Kuching/Sarawak/East-Malaysia (Borneo): Proboscis monkey in Bako National Park
Sabah/East-Malaysia
(Island of Borneo)
(Oct. 2006)

Mount Kinabalu/Sabah/East-Malaysia (Borneo): Early Morning View

Brunei
(Sept. 2006)
 
Brunei (Borneo): ’The 'Ali Saifuddien'-Mosque at sunset in Bandar Seri Begawan
Sarawak/East-Malaysia
(Island of Borneo), Part 1
(June - Aug. 2006)

Miri/Sarawak/East-Malaysia (Borneo): Traditional stilt houses reflecting in the water of the Miri River

Myanmar
(May 2006)
 
Myanmar: Waiting for customers in Kawthoung
Thailand
Temples, Pagodas, Shrines 

Thailand
People, Beaches, Nature

(Nov. 1993 - Jan. 1994)
(Nov. - Dec. 2005)
(Febr. - April 2006)
Thailand: Ho Phra I-Suan Temple in Nakhon Si Thammarat

Laos

(February 2006)

Laos: The ’Patuxai’, the Laotian replica of the French ’Arc de Triomphe’ in Paris

Vietnam

(January 2006)
Vietnam: Two women cultivating a rice field

Cambodia

(December 2005)

Cambodia: The main temple of Angkor Wat with its five towers viewed from the hill of the ’Phnom Bakheng’ - Temple

Malaysia

(Oct. - Nov. 2005)
Malaysia: The four minarets of the ’Sultan Salahuddin’ State Mosque in Shah Alam are visible already from far

Singapore

(September 2005)

Singapore: High-rise buildings pop up everywhere - here behind the Parliament House

Macao

(September 2005)

Macao: The ’St. Paul’ ruin is an inspiring sight also at night

Hong Kong

(September 2005)

 

Hong Kong:From ’Hong Kong Peak’ we get an excellent view of the ’skyscraper jungle’
+ our Timor-Leste Trip, 2nd part

Mainland with Dili – May 2007

+ our Timor-Leste Trip, 1st part

Enclave of Oecussi – May 2007

+ our Indonesia Trip, 4th part

Sumba, West Timor – April-May 2007

+ our Indonesia Trip, 3rd part

Lombok, Sumabawa, Flores – April 2007

+ our Indonesia Trip, 2nd part

Bali – Jan.-March 2007

+ our Indonesia Trip, 1st part

Sumatra, Java – Dec. 2006

+ our Borneo Trip

Sarawak, Brunei, Sabah, Kalimantan – Sept.-Nov. 2006

+ our LandCruiser on a "Rejuvenation Cure"

in Miri/Sarawak - the East Malaysian province on Borneo June-Aug. 2006

+ added from a earlier visit to the USA:

Las Vegas    (Millennium change)

+ added from our Arabian Peninsula round trip:

Pictures from Yemen (May-June 1996)

+ Flashbacks of our Worldrecordtour:

Pictures from "all the continents" (Oct. 1984 - April 1997)

+ Follow-ups about Toyota-Experiences:
Encounters resp. "Ups + Downs" with
Toyota Companies since 1982
On July 7th, 2005, we were able to celebrate after a journey through 150 countries the car's
600'000th Kilometer - very prosaic in front of the post office in Cayenne/French Guiana.
Are you interested into the LandCruiser History, prepared by Toyota Motor Sales USA and taken over by
Toyota Motor United Kingdom? (after some loading-time please klick "IN LEGEND" and afterwards "HAIR TO MAGELLAN
- and you will see that we already belong to it too!)

 

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